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Friday, February 26, 2016

It’s not about the money…

…so said Supervisor Tyksinski at the last town board meeting. It’s about control of the parks in the Town of New Hartford.

Control? What is he really saying? According to the last meeting (and some previous meetings), there has been trouble at New Hartford town parks which is why the town board opted to hire part-time security. Is the supervisor implying that only people outside of New Hartford cause problems in the park? I find that hard to believe!

So is it control or is it about discrimination?

According to today’s Observer Dispatch article, there probably will be exceptions made to the $5 per car fee that may be instituted for non-residents who visit three (3) town parks.
"All resident patrons, pavilion permit holders and youth organizations can get a free parking permit annually at the town clerks office, to be exempt from parking fees, officials say."
That statement doesn't even make sense, but it sounds like there may be some exceptions for some people. In fact, there were talks of some exceptions at the February 10th meeting, but at what point does a few exceptions constitute discrimination, Supervisor Tyksinski, and what guarantees the town that just because someone pays the $5, they won't cause problems? Also, I believe that the NYS Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Dept. may not allow discrimination, in fact, I am sure of it.

A little park history…let’s back up.

According to several old newspaper articles that I found as well as my recollection of the facts (I have been a long-time resident), the parks that the town plans to impose entrance fees on are not town parks built only by the residents of New Hartford; they were created by grants from the state; in other words all NYers paid to create the parks in New Hartford. Therefore, while according to signed agreements, the yearly maintenance costs are levied on New Hartford resident tax bills, the grants to create and update the parks were obtained from the State and those grants have a few strings attached.

According to documents that were signed years ago (I have copies):
”The Municipality shall at its own cost and expense, operate and maintain, or cause to be operated and maintained, for the intended public use, the property or facilities acquired or developed pursuant to this agreement in an attractive and safe manner to standards acceptable to the Commissioner”.

”Where there is no charge for residents but a fee is charged to non-residents, non-resident fees cannot exceed fees charged for residents at comparable State or local public facilities.”
These regulations are also outlined in New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Law. So now the question is, what is a comparable park? The only parks mentioned at the February 10th town board meeting were ones that have a beach. New Hartford doesn’t have a beach or any swimming facilities for that matter. What do other State or local parks “comparable” to New Hartford town parks charge for parking? Is it really legal under the terms of the State grants for the town to charge?

More recently, according to the August 21, 2002 New Hartford town board minutes:
Grant – Donovan Memorial Park Playground Equipment

Upon request of Parks and Recreation Director Michael Jeffery, Councilman Backman introduced the following Resolution for adoption, seconded by Councilman Butler:

(RESOLUTION NO. 337 OF 2002)

RESOLVED that the Town Board of the Town of New Hartford does hereby authorize and direct Parks and Recreation Director Michael W. Jeffery to execute Grant Contract No. PKS-02-CE-009 for the reimbursement amount of Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000) and Grant Contract No. PKS-02-CE-063 for the reimbursement amount of Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000) for the installation of playground equipment in the Donovan Memorial Park, Elm Street, Chadwicks in said Town during 2002.
Perhaps the town should check out the agreement that was signed when the NYS Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Dept. awarded the grant money to replace the playground equipment at the Donovan Memorial Park.

Not about the money?

Let’s also look at this from another point of view.

The only reason the adopted 2016 town budget did not include a property tax rate increase is because $100,000 was cut from the NH Library and $150,000 of “phantom” revenue was plugged in for park fees.

To a financial person that certainly looks like at least a $250,000 budget shortfall that had to be plugged. $250,000…that is a quarter of a million dollars folks!

Cutting two (2) quality of life budget lines so that Supervisor Tyksinski could present a budget with a zero tax increase…is that a wise decision? What additional fees will he add or cuts will he make in next year’s budget if the $150,000 of park fee revenue doesn’t materialize?

One last item…

If you watched the video discussion of the park fee implementation, you might have heard Supervisor Tyksinski state and confirm with Mike Jeffrey whether he had the money in his budget to purchase the three (3) machines that are needed to hand out tickets once someone pays the fee.

Did you hear Tyksinski say that “he (Mike Jeffrey) has the money for two (2) of the machines in his capital budget”? Not one councilman questioned that statement. Do even one of the councilmen know what a capital budget is or isn’t? If they do, they certainly didn’t speak up!

Let me tell you what it isn’t. It isn’t money on hand; and it isn’t operating budget monies. It is equipment that the town plans to pay for by borrowing, i.e., bonding.

According to, a capital budget is:
Capital Budget

Definition: Plan for raising large and long-term sums for investment in plant and machinery, over a period greater than the period considered under an operating budget.

So my friends and fellow taxpayers, even though you live in the Town of New Hartford, entrance to the parks will not be without cost. $38,000 for three (3) machines is the cost that was brought out at the last board meeting, but one would be foolish to believe that will be the extent of the borrowing. And what will the cost be for any additional security and police parking tickets not to mention the possible loss of revenue for local businesses when people decide to use other parks where there are no fees?

Not about the money? Bottom line…it appears to sadly be partly discrimination and partly to close a huge gap in the 2016 Town of New Hartford budget.

The question is...under NYS Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Law, is what they are proposing even legal?!!


Anonymous said...

The New Hartford Town Board, and from an outsiders view the Citizens themselves, regularly discriminate against its underprivileged (Old and Poor) citizens and those not from New Hartford itself. "We are the top town in Oneida County" per the Town Supervisor.

New Hartford, NY Online said...

It is unfortunate that a lot of people feel as you do. However, I can assure you that not all town residents are that way. I hope many people show up and voice their opinions on March 9th at 6:00 p.m. This town board will back down if there are many voices against their plan.

Unknown said...

I'm a New Hartford resident and I would like to stand up against this terrible resolution. Where is the meeting?

New Hartford, NY Online said...

The meeting is in Butler Hall starting at 6:00 p.m. tonight. Use the back entrance to Butler Hall.